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Recent changes to the Law that affect learning to ride a motorcycle

1990Motorcycle Training law

Introduction of CBT (Compulsory Basic Training)

Compulsory Basic Training
The format of this course has changed very little with the exception of the introduction of a 2-hour road ride. This will make it a little more difficult for novice riders who have no road experience. All licence holders will now have to undertake a CBT course if they want to ride up to a 125cc machine on the road. Full car licence holders were still able to ride up to a 50cc moped without L-Plates and carry a pillion passenger.

1996

Only UK licence holders are able to take a Motorcycle test.

All new CBT certificates were valid for 3 years from date of issue.

All certificates issued prior to July 1996 were valid for 3 years from this date (i.e. expired in July 1999)

Re-tests revised – Candidates must wait 10 working days before retaking a motorcycle test.

1997

Introduction of 5 different types of Motorcycle licence.

  • Automatic: this applies to any of the licences listed below if the test is taken on an automatic machine. All the other restrictions apply, along with the rider being restricted to an automatic only machine.
  • ‘A1’ Light Motorcycle: this licence is allows a rider to ride up to 125cc with no L - plates and with a passenger. The test must be taken on a motorcycle of between 75cc and 120cc.
  • ‘A2’ Restricted Licence: this licence allows a rider to use any machine regardless of cc providing that the machine does not produce more than 33bhp as its power output. If a machine produces more than 33bhp it is possible to restrict the machine with a kit. The restriction is in place for two years, at the end of which it is lifted with no need for a further test. The test must be taken on a machine of between 121cc and 125cc with at least 12bhp.
  • ‘A’ Direct Access Scheme: this test allows the rider to use any machine regardless of cc or power output. The rider must be over 21 and the motorcycle must exceed 46.5bhp to take the test.
  • Accelerated Access: this is the same as the Direct Access Scheme, but the rider already holds one of the other types of motorcycle licence and is upgrading. The test conditions are the same as those for the Direct Access Scheme. However, there is no need to retake the CBT or Theory Test.

CBT becomes compulsory for everyone regardless of when his or her licence was issued.

Theory Test introduced for all provisional licence holders.

CBT syllabus altered to include a compulsory 2-hour road ride section.

Candidates must produce photographic identity when taking their practical motorcycle test and Theory Test.

1999

Introduction of new photo-card licences. Both parts of the licence (the paper and the card part) must be produced for the licence to be valid for the CBT, Theory Test and motorcycle test, as well as any training course at Lightning Motorcycle Training.

2001

All new motorcycle test candidates must do a Theory Test regardless of their licence.

Full car licence holders who passed their car test before February 1st 2001 will still be able to carry a pillion and do not have to display L-Plates.

All new car licence holders must complete a CBT before riding a moped. Those who take a CBT for a moped will have a certificate that lasts for the life of their driving licence.

Anyone receiving a ban on his or her licence will also lose his or her CBT certificate and Theory Test pass certificate.

All CBT certificates issued for motorcycles and scooters from the 1st February 2001 will only last for 2 years.

The old two years on, one year off restriction for provisional motorcycle licences is abolished. A new provisional motorcycle licence will last for the life of the licence.

2002

Hazard perception test introduced as part of the motorcycle Theory Test. Candidates are required to click a button as they see 'emerging' hazards during a video clip. The Theory Test is extended by 20 minutes to include this element.

2003

New questions are added to the start of the practical motorcycle test. These questions relate to basic maintenance and precautions that need to be made to your machine to ensure safe riding. There are two questions; one asks you to tell the examiner how to adjust or check a part of the machine, and the other asks you to show the examiner how you would check or adjust part of the machine. A failure to answer both correctly will result in one minor point in the overall test result.

April 2009

Introduction of the 2nd European Licence Directive (2DLD) to bring the motorcycle test in line with the rest of Europe. The motorcycle test is split into two parts to include an off road section (Module 1) that will include new manoeuvres, such as a swerve test.

The new test was due to be implemented in August 2008 - but was postponed until March 2009. It involves a two part process. The first part is off road, covering extended slow control exercises (including a slow ride and U-turn), a 32mph emergency stop, a 18mph corner and a 32mph swerve. This is followed by the normal road test (Module 2), but without the usual emergency stop and U-turn. The length of the test and cost was increased to an eye-watering £90.50, and the location of the test centres changed too - only 50 odd fully functioning test centres down from 200+.

People need more training for this, and even for those that don't the costs rose. See below for a picture of the off-road test layout.

The DSA announced that the new test was to be introduced in October 2008. They organised a meeting for all the motorcycle training schools for 23rd January 2008 at the National Motorcycle Museum where they intended to explain how it will be rolled out. In the event it was an utter farce and training schools were advised to "go on holiday".

The meeting came and went without anyone being much the wiser. As the deadline drew closer most of the details were still unavailable, but what was clear was that instead of 77 test centres (later revised to 66) being ready for the new test only 37 new multi-purpose test centres (MMA) were ready. This caused a massive jam for tests with many training schools faced with not being able to either buy tests or get to a local test centre. With two week's notice the test was postponed by six months until 28th March 2009.

Finally the new test went ahead on the 27th April 2009, and the lord be praised the UK now complies with the rest of Europe (who have largely ignored the whole process). The test is in two parts - Module 1 (£15.50) takes 15 minutes and is done at an MPTC, Casual site or VOSA site. It involves a series of slow and high speed manoeuvres. The Module 2 (£75.00) takes about 40 minutes and is much the same as the current motorcycle test but does not have a U-turn or emergency stop.

January 2013

The 3rd European Licence Directive (3DLD)

The law change came into effect on the 19th January 2013. The 3rd European Licence Directive (3DLD) has the following changes:

16+ - CBT.
17+ - A1 (Light Motorcycle) licence allowing a full licence up to 125cc

19+ - A2 (Restricted Licence) licence allowing a full licence up to 35kw/46.6bhp on any size motorcycle (but not more than 0.2kw/kg or derived from a vehicle more than double its power - 70kw)
24+ - A (Direct Access Scheme) licence allowing a full licence for any motorcycle.

Unlike the current situation A2 does automatically upgrade to a full licence after 2 years. Instead people will have to take either a test or training to upgrade to the new licence after 2 years. At present the only planned upgrade is by re-taking the test. This is called Progressive Access, and this can happen either after two years of passing a test or when someone reaches the correct age to upgrade.

Confusingly when a person upgrades may or may not require them to retake the Motorcycle Theory Test. If there has been a two year wait then there is no need to retake the Theory Test. However, if someone decides to upgrade early because they are now old enough to take (so for example they were 23 when they took their first test and then at 24 decided to retake the test for Direct Access Scheme) then they will need to redo the Motorcycle Theory Test unless they still have a valid certificate (which last two years). This does not apply to CBT.

The main issues presented by this change of law are the size of the minimum test vehicle. Some people will find the physical size of the 600cc motorcycles hard to handle particularly for the Module 1 test. The second issue is the potential cost to young people wishing to progress through to a full licence.

April 2014

A minor change so that the minimum test vehicle for the A2 Restricted Licence is changed so that anything from between 20kw and 35kw and over 395cc is acceptable for test, provided it is not derived from a motorcycle that has more than 70kw as standard. So a restricted Suzuki Gladius 650 is okay but a Yamaha R1 is not. There is also a restriction on the power to weight ratio of 0.2kw/kg. If you're not sure ask a local main dealer.

December 2018

A further change to the minimum test vehicle for the Direct Access Scheme (DAS) - to take your test the motorcycle must be at least 595cc, 50kw and weigh more than 180kg. What you can ride after you have passed does not change - anything you want!

Module 1 test layout

Module 1 motorcycle test layout right circuitModule 1 motorcycle test layout left circuit



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